3rd Circuit Decision
In March, 2013, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals said that a collection agency violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) when it sent a debt collection letter that included language that could confuse“the least sophisticated consumer” into taking two different courses of action. See Caprio v. Healthcare Revenue Recovery Group
The three-judge appellate panel, in a precedential opinion found that the debt collection letter instructing the consumer to “please call” – on the front of the letter to dispute the debt coupled with the language on the back of the letter stating that all debt disputed must be in writing could very well confuse the least sophisticated consumer.
The FDCPA is clear that a consumer must notify a debt collector in writing within 30 days after receiving a debt collection letter to dispute the validity of a debt. Inserting language into a debt collection letter that contradicts this clear instruction to dispute the debt in writing could very well confuse the least sophisticated consumer.
The Court held that the collection agency ran afoul of the FDCPA’s section 1692g by mailing a debt collection letter to a consumer that was deceptive because “it can be reasonably read to have two or more different meanings, one of which is inaccurate.”